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Commentary by Stephen R. Kaufman 26 Mar 2001:
May Christs peace embrace your lives.
One of the things from this weeks readings that really resonates with me is when Isaiah prophesies, "The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches" (Isa 43:20). This reinforces my belief that the world was created to glorify God, not merely to serve humankinds selfish desires. A recurrent Biblical theme is that all creation might "declare my praise" (Isa 43:21), though the Scriptures do not discern Gods motivations for wanting this.
The Hebrew Scriptures describe God choosing the Hebrews to praise him in a special way by adhering to certain rituals. It is not clear why the Hebrews were chosen, but it may be related to Abrahams righteousness and faithfulness. It is important to remember, however, that neither the Hebrew Scriptures nor Hebrew tradition exclude non-Jews from Gods love and compassion. The rituals prescribed for the Hebrews are sacred obligations but Jewish tradition has always held that being "chosen" should not be cause for conceit.
Jewish tradition teaches that God cares for Gentiles and for the rest of creation. As the Psalmist said, "The earth is the Lords, and the fullness thereof." (24:1) Christianity similarly teaches that our lives should glorify God, and I think the best way we can do this is by honoring and respecting Gods creation.
In Christs peace,
Commentary by Frank L. Hoffman 27 Mar 2001:
Many commentary writers like to give names to various Biblical passages such as Isaiah 43:16-21. They give it such names as The Remarkable Exodus or Wonders of a New Exodus, and then they concentrate on Israel's history and how God works wonders for His people. While these interpretations may be true, I also see in this passage a Messianic message for us today.
16 This is what the LORD says-- he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters,
17 who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
God will put an end to war. The Lord will call forth the mighty warring nations who put their trust in their armament and lead them into their own destruction. They will fight with one another until there are none left, and then will come peace. And I believe that this includes the so-called peace-keeper nations such as the United States.
One who kills cannot be a peacemaker!
In Matthew 5:9, Jesus teaches us: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons [and daughters] of God." And in Romans 8:18-25, Paul tells us such people will save the whole of creation (people, and animals and the physical part of creation). The former evil things will pass away. There will no more killing. We will have a new future, just as we are told in our next verses.
18 "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.
Most of our warring madness against each other is the result of jealousy or revenge. We are to forget such things.
We seek the decadent and evil thing in life for excitement, and with these lusts we slaughter billions of animals, and engage in unholy acts. True peacemakers leave such thoughts and actions behind.
Such people seek to make the world better tomorrow than it is today or was yesterday. They seek to bring about a kinder, more sensitive and caring society. They seek to water the dry places with the Word and mercies of the Lord, where they have dried up. And because of this, even the shy and formally shunned and abused creatures of this world will praise the Lord.
20 The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen,
21 the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise. (NIV)
Those whom God chose, are not those born Jews or Christians because of their family heritage, they are the ones who hear the voice of the Lord and change into the true sons and daughters, the peacemakers, whom God desires us to be.
The warriors and abusers and destroyers on both sides of a battle, or even in our animal agricultural industry often claim to be doing the will of God, but they are not. The meek, the gentle, the peacemakers, they are the only ones who truly are doing God's will today. As Richard Schwarz so apply points out in his book, Judaism and Vegetarianism, there is no Jewish blessing over meat or other animal products, for they came to a person's plate through the suffering and death of God's creatures. And through such acts we take away the praise due our God.
Let us resolve to look forward, not worrying about the evils of yesterday, but striving with all our heart and soul to eliminate as much pain and suffering and death as we possibly can; to speak out against the evils we see and insensitivity we encounter. Let us be those who make the whole of creation desire to praise God.
In the Love of the Lord,
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